Following the elections online

Here are the best sites to follow the Ivorian elections online in real time I’ve found so far:
(They are  in French unless stated otherwise)


#Civ2010 Seems to be the main twitter channel

Cotedivoirevote No idea who this is, but I see frequent updates in English He has switched to French and updates are not very frequent any longer

Ourmaninafrica Journalist John James [English]


RFI Afrique live Radio France Internationale

ONUCI FM live United Nation’s Radio channel in the Ivory Coast


RTI Ivorian State television live

Africa24 Latest news broadcast


Web: Reported official results

Additional suggestions are welcome!

Hopefully this photo will be representative for the elections

Prediction time

It’s election time in the Ivory Coast.  While it’s unpredictable, I have nevertheless tried to put probabilities on the possible outcomes.

Here we go:

50%:  Gbagbo wins outright in the first round

In this case I estimate that Gbagbo gets an honest result of 30% – 45%  plus 10% – 20% by fraud. As mentioned in the More Politics post I don’t think Gbagbo has the votes to win outright.

If Gbagbo doesn’t win in the first round it will be clear that a majority didn’t vote for him, making things difficult for him in the second round. Gbagbo has strong incentives to win in the first round, and I’m not sure if a hundred or so electoral observers can prevent vote rigging.

And then there is always the method of just announcing the result you want regardless of the outcome of the votes, and them, ahem “take care” of anyone mentioning the real result. With an electoral commission announcing the results,  and the UN in place, that might be tricky to pull off,  but I wouldn’t rule out anything.

With Gbagbo winning in the first round, there will undoubtedly be protests, and very likely violence.  The question is just how bad it will be.  Depending on how big and obvious the election rigging was, there might also be a diplomatic backlash against Gbagbo.  My take is that Gbagbo has enough of a grip on armed forces and militas to not be unseated from power.

48%:  Gbagbo heads to a second run run-off with either Ouattara or Bedie

This result would mean that fraud didn’t impact the election result very much.   In free and fair elections in democracies, it is very unusual that a candidate wins an outright majority in a first run of presidential elections with multiple candidates. The big unknown – as I see it –  is how much vote rigging (if any) in favour of Gbagbo there will be.

I think it is more likely that Ouattara goes in run-off than Bedie.  In this case there is a possibility that Gbagbo gains the support of Bedie by promising seats in government to PDCI, but the main scenario is still that Bedie and Ouattara do not break their alliance.  And then we are back in the scenario above, but with Gbagbo in a somewhat weaker position as it requires more obvious vote rigging to win if Ouattara and Bedie are united, and together got more than 50% in the first round.

Also, if you had one relatively fair round of elections,  it becomes more more difficult to start rigging the second one. A fair first round could be due to FPI trying, but failing to rig it in sufficient numbers, or not trying at all. In both cases there is a good chance of the second round being fair as well.

If Gbagbo got say 49.8% in the first round, then I guess he is still in a strong position for the second round, but I think that would mean that the first round wasn’t entirely fair.

2%: Ouattara and Bedie face each other in the second round

Even without any pro-Gbagbo vote rigging, I think Gbagbo has enough support to come in among the first two candidates in the first round. And neither Ouattara nor Bedie have  sufficient control of the state apparatus to do any major vote rigging.  This scenario is in other words very unlikely.

The Upside

An Apartment-hotel in Abidjan

I have written a lot about risks , problems and worries about real estate investments in the Ivory Coast. Thought it might be time to speak about the upside.  Last time in Abidjan I found a great example of a successful real estate-based business that’s within reach for small scale investors such as myself.

Let’s start with a question, who makes more money, a senior manager  at a big multinational corporation based in Western Europe, or the owner of a small apart-hotel on this street in Abidjan:

The apart-hotel is not visible on the photo, but it’s 200 meters ahead on the left hand side.

I had a chat with the owner who is a quite inspiring Ivorian lady in her late 40s. She says she bought the plot of land for 4.5 million CFA Francs 20 years ago, and has plowed in practically all her savings into constructing the apart-hotel, adding little by little. At one point when she lived in France, she took a loan from a French bank to construct a house in France, but instead used the bulk of the funds for the Apart-hotel in Abidjan. Continue reading “The Upside”

Autocrat rule 101

Storm clouds ahead

It looks like the first round of the presidential election in the Ivory Coast are really going to happen this time, if not on the scheduled date on the 31st October, so at least in November. So far there’s been relatively low levels of violence surrounding the various election campaigns, which is somewhat promising.

Not many years ago an opposition rally in the south would have been attacked by militias and/or security forces, but now such rallies take place peacefully in Abidjan.

The real test will however be what happens during and after the elections.  Six months ago I tried to analyse likely outcomes and today it looks just as uncertain as it did then. The present relative calm today may quickly be turned over head.'s election special

Gbagbo struggling with the introductory course

A month ago Gbagbo promoted a number of high-level army and police officers, and made a speech saying (and here I quote Pauline at West Africa Wins Always’ translation of Gbagbo’s speech):

“We ask the police, to subdue all those who are against the republic. You have enemies — I say enemies, not opponents — and the enemies are all those who want to disrupt the elections. You are not a judge. You are a combatant. Your role is to obey, not to think. If there is damage, it is up to the judges to evaluate. If there are mistakes, we will solve them. But you must realize that you are here to suppress all those who oppose peace.”

I guess Gbagbo is just following the basics of “Autocrat rule 101” here, ie:

(1) Keep the guys with guns loyal to you.

(2) Get the guys with guns to be ready to do what it takes to keep you in power if your position is threatened (by a coup, protests in the streets or pesky elections etc)

I have heard two different interpretation of Gbagbo’s speech, one is that his main concern is to ensure that the army and police strikes down any protests against his rule after the election. The other, that he is worried about a coup d’etat and wants to shore up support among the police and army.

If it’s the latter he’s actually missing an important lesson from the Autocratic rule curriculum; that it is nearly always lower ranked officers that stage coups.  The high level ones already have cushy salaries and perks and stuff, and have more to lose.

Autocrat rule 101: Don’t lose half your country!

Now, I don’t think a coup d’etat is very likely in the Ivory Coast, but I do think that Gbagbo isn’t very good at being an autocratic ruler.  Compared to for instance Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Gbagbo is way behind. Mr Yew has for a starter never lost half his country to an armed rebellion, he doesn’t have half of the printed press against him, and he has regular elections with no risk of losing them and absolutely no violence.

One of Mr Yew’s “tricks” is to- and this is pretty advanced autocratic rule – not kill opposition leaders, and not even to put them in prison, but to sue them and ruin them financially and have a law that bankrupted persons may not run for public office.  I once met J.B. Jeyaretnam who long held one a the few opposition seats in Singapore’s parliament, and was in the Guinness book of records as most sued man on earth.

Swedes talking about Africa

I found two recent, pretty interesting lectures by Swedes speaking in English, covering big picture thinking on development in Africa:

Andreas Bergh at the University of Lund:

Andreas Bergh “Landgrabbing, Aid & McDonalds – The Future of Africa” 4 October 2010 Part 1 from upflund on Vimeo.

Andreas Bergh “Landgrabbing, Aid & McDonalds – The Future of Africa” 4 October 2010 Part 2 from upflund on Vimeo.

Hans Rosling at TEDxChange: